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Our Philosophy

The Carvela Leadership Academy is an organization that empowers young adults through experiential learning. We strive to make a positive impact on each member of our community by building connections to self, others, and the natural world.

Throughout all that we do, we work to create positive connections between students and staff alike and meaningful experiences for all.

When a student finishes their time with us, we hope they will have a stronger sense of self and independence, a better understanding of how to relate to and communicate with others, and will have learned something new!


5 core principles

We're committed to creating safe and meaningful experiences for all participants; we're guided by 5 core principles.

1 / Collaboration

We utilize a collaborative programming model that empowers participants to co-create their own experience. This model fosters strong communication skills, decision-making skills, and leadership skills while giving participants agency and independence.

2 / Non-Competitive Community

Our culture prioritizes encouragement and inclusion over competition. We utilize language and leadership practices that create supportive spaces for participants to try new things and take healthy social and physical risks free from judgement and the fear of "failure."

3 / Unplugged Connection

We are an "unplugged community," meaning our trips and expeditions are screen-free. We believe that disconnecting from the electronic world helps us reconnect with ourselves and with others in an authentic way.


Note: our staff is always equipped with a phone and a GPS device for safety purposes and emergency use.

4 / Project-Based Learning

Through our project-based learning approach, we help students foster a passion and understanding through doing.

5 / Education

With access to top-of-the-line teachers and mentors, students will receive individual attention and assistance with their courses and homework based on their needs and progress throughout the semester.  


Collaborative program design
& consensus decision making

Our approach to programming is different than most-- designed and led by participants through a process we call "consensus decision making," no two CLA programs are ever alike; each is as unique as the participants themselves!


With the support and guidance of an experienced guides, mentors and educators, participants co-plan and co-lead every aspect of their experience at CLA - These real-life decisions require strong teamwork and communication, fostering a community of inclusion and collaboration. 


This model is grounded in the following beliefs:

Everyone is welcome

The outdoors are for everyone. Our programs are gender-inclusive and open to anyone with a thirst for adventure and a desire to learn.

We respect the land

Nature isn't something to be conquered; it is something to experience. We practice ethical land use and honor those who's land we enjoy and leave it as we found it.

Everyone is a leader

Leadership comes in many forms and all are necessary for a healthy community. We give everyone the chance to lead while remaining true to who they are.

We prioritize safety 

Adventure comes with inherent risk, so we assess each hazard we encounter and always prioritize the physical and emotional safety of our group.

Everyone contributes

Collaboration is key. Our group succeeds when each individual participant feels heard and valued for their unique ideas, perspectives, and skills.

We create fun

Life in a residential community can be as rewarding as it is difficult, so we always find a reason to laugh and play--no matter how daunting the challenge or mundane the task.

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